The title of this post was supposed to be “how we got happy…” but it’s more than that, I’m feeling rich these days, an abundance of happy. We made it, we’re really living the life we dreamed of.
We’re in the middle of a glorious Australian subtropical winter, I’m in the middle of a mid-year study break. Just over 18 months has passed since we traded our city lives & working incomes for the best laid plans of a new life in the country.
Our first year was a whirlwind of unpacking, shuffling, fixing, gardening, building, adapting, cooking, cleaning, growing, making, maintaining, settling interspersed with several months of holiday caravanning around Australia before resuming unpacking, shuffling, fixing, gardening, building, adapting, cooking, cleaning, growing, making, maintaining, settling. Much of which continues.
It isn’t quite what we’d envisioned… lazy days reading books in the sun, pottering around the garden, leisurely homegrown home-cooked meals, creative projects, day trips to the beach. It’s more; busier, challenging, exhausting and rewarding.
It seems we’ve hit a sweet spot. In words and pictures, as briefly as I can…
First on the list and incredibly satisfying is doing things for ourselves. I grew-cooked-made-built-fixed-did this. Tangible & immediate payoff, or long-term gain.
We support, share, barter, collaborate, exchange with neighbours, family and friends.
With so much going on in our lives exposure to television, news media and the superficial side of social media is naturally limited. We’re not sorry about that.
Although we no longer participate in a structured Monday to Friday working week, this wonderful homemade life is fulltime, so we endeavour make -at least- weekends our free days.
We focus on what we have, what we can do for ourselves and the benefits.
There are times we spend modest funds running errands, going to markets, celebrating occasions, and so on. Sometimes we make major purchases that will add value to our life. We then resume our usual fabulously frugal.
We aren’t alone, there are people in our community and all over the world living similarly, many using creditable social media platforms to document their experiences and inspiration. Our life would be so much poorer and less enjoyable without the generosity of their shared information. We contribute to the mix via the blog, Instagram and Facebook, and taking time to chat.
Love the life you live. Live the life you love.
We believe wealth is more than money in the bank and dollar value of possessions. Time is an under-valued resource. How much of your life did that Thneed cost? Time or money, what we spend must give us a lifestyle return.
Although our income is limited we have an extras contingency plan which enables us to take advantage of bargains, bulk buys, and cover emergencies. We use it judiciously. We live fabulously frugally by choice, and long term have modest funds we can’t access until later in life.
When I planned to study I called the local Tafe college, then visited, and was provided with advice on courses, what financial support I could access and how.
When it became apparent the G.O.’s self-employment plans were going to be delayed by his knee injury we sought assistance from local government agencies to understand what options were available for him.
We don’t do cheap. We prefer the terms fabulously frugal… or plain old-fashioned thrifty, embrace less is more and live well.
Finally, free advice if the ambiguous title led you here and you made it through all the way to the end.
If you’re searching for rich don’t overlook happy. If you’re searching for happy you can make it yourself.
As the season changed from summer to autumn I continued to live in two horticultural worlds; one of words creating an imaginary garden in answer to a client brief to fulfil the major plant culture assignment for my Hortculture course at Tafe, and the other of deeds working on our garden.
Today I finished the report. This is the overview, where I “sell it”…
The gardening year naturally divides into four seasons characterised by their own events, cycles and weather. Taking into account the practical, aesthetic and sensory this plant assemblage has been selected to accomplish an outcome which is both handsome and serviceable.
It offers an opportunity for simple pleasures: waking to birdsong, beholding butterflies, soothing bee hum, wafting perfume, feel of fragrant foliage, aroma and flavour of fresh culinary edibles, as well as seasonal appreciation of ever-changing leaves and flowers.
Central to this garden design is its heart, literally evidenced by a signature Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (Eastern Redbud) whose burgundy heart shaped leaves and rose coloured flowers are on display front and central, offset by a mass of Gaura lindheimeri’s (Beeblossom) whirling butterflies blooms adjacent to a stand of stylish Prunus glandulosa ‘Alba Plena’ (Dwarf Flowering Almond).
Acanthus mollis’ (Oyster Plant) resplendent ruffled shiny green foliage studded with striking purple and white flower spikes in summer heralds the front walkway, preceding an invitation to linger along scented Lavendula dentata (French Lavender) fringing the entry, divert to a troika of tasty Fragaria (Strawberry) species or the perfume of an espaliered Osmanthus heterophyllus (Fragrant Holly) just beyond.
Flanking the western border are glossy dark green foliage and pink budded, fragrant springtime flowers of Viburnum x burkwoodii (Burkwood Viburnum) countering a multi-hued floral display ensemble of Impatiens species skirting the deck.
On the eastern side Backhousia citriodora’s (Lemon Scented Myrtle) bronzed green leaves and clusters of flowers provide a lemon scented boundary and backdrop to the patio.
Neighbouring the existing grove of citrus, a triad of culinary tub specimens garnish patio boundaries: Punica granatum ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Pomegranate), Eugenia reinwardtiana (Cedar Bay Cherry), Laurus nobilis (Bay Laurel) are close by Rosemarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’ (Rosemary) demarcating the kitchen garden proximate to the pergola’s swathe of Passiflora edulis (Purple Passionfruit).
A guard of tall evergreen Melaleuca armillaris (Bracelet Honey Myrtle) with creamy-white puffy flowers and characterful bark grace the rear northwest corner balanced by a trio of fragrant flowering Abelia species in the northeast.
Taking advantage of the generous proportions of rear space a trinity of Ceratopetalum gummiferum (NSW Christmas Bush) provide shade and festive display in harmony with the adjacent jewel of the backyard, a Lagerstroemia indica x fauriel ‘Natchez White’ (Crepe Myrtle).
Complementary and constructive plant selections have been made to accomplish eighteen contiguous but distinct areas and uses proposed by the landscape concept plan, and are detailed in Appendix 2 Plant Selection Sheet and Appendix 3 Plant Profile Sheets.
Then went for a walk around our garden with my camera…
“A man of words and not of deeds
Is like a garden full of weeds” ~ John Fletcher
As autumn weather intensified into flood rain during the latter part of the week our day-to-day life calmed. During a sunny Sunday morning lull in the downpour I checked the garden and snapped some photographs.
Approaching week 8 of my Horticulture course at Tafe I’ve been directing time and attention to preparing for assessments and assignments. To date I’ve developed a memory bank of 30 Latin plant names.
Amidst this everyday, life and death goes on… We’ve attended 2 family funerals, an uncle on my mum’s side and the G.O.’s aunt, the G.O.’s knee arthroscopy went well and while he
impatiently recovers he literally & figuratively workshops future ideas & plans. We take care of domestic business, shop, cook, clean and of course garden.
The client brief for my major assignment sees theory and practice mingle as we improve our own garden and I create another on paper, in the process learning that I can dig holes, and weave words around just about any subject.
“Remodel existing garden using optimal plant selections to achieve eighteen adjacent but discrete functional areas and uses proposed by the landscape concept plan.
Propose solutions for pests and diseases.
Retain and rejuvenate trio of existing citrus trees.
Propose care plan for kikuyu lawn.
Select and provide detailed profiles for plants suitable to a residential garden…
… This stylish scheme fulfills the fundamental requirements of the garden and adds value to the property, then goes further to reward its owner throughout the year with leisure-time enjoyment and opportunities for hands-on cultivation balanced by peace of mind in leaving broader care to a horticulture specialist…
… Bees are necessary to the ecosystem and beneficial to gardens. Their diet needs to come from a variety of sources, in early spring and in times of scarcity when little else is in bloom, dandelions are a valuable food. Timing lawn mowing to allow dandelion flowers to bloom provides incentive for bees to come into the garden. Mowing before flowers develop into seed heads prevent dandelions proliferating…”
Above: We have growing things! Looking from both ends of our vege garden cage
Above: The G.O. added rock edges and I added plants to extend back & front garden beds
Above: Bone gardening Diesel-dog style…too many parsley seedlings anyway… and brick paving G.O. style
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” ― Yogi Berra
This blog post comes to your screen courtesy of the Dark Playground of procrastination. A term my uni student sister introduced me to, and having now embarked upon my own studies, a place I’m becoming quite at home in.
Ignoring the siren call of the Dark Playground is one of my new everyday challenges, added to plant culture language & skillsets directly Horticulture related such as memorising for assessment sixty Latin plant names -Stenocarpus sinuatus, Buckinghamia celsissima, Stepanotis floribunda, Canna x generalis, Prumnopitys Ladei, Plectranthus argentatus, Banksia integrifolia, Leucanthemum x superbum, Pelargonium peltatum, Caesalpinia ferrea… just for starters, shooting levels with a dumpy for site set out, plant propagation, and wielding a mattock & wheelbarrow to re-establish a garden.
Home work is a legitimate distraction from homework. Familiar domestic diversions of hanging washing on the clothesline thereby somehow losing an hour in the garden, and kitchen witchery are viable immediate activities which I conveniently convince myself are more pressing than preparing for assignments due in weeks 9 and 14.
The Dark Playground manifests in many forms. I embrace them all. Sometimes simultaneously. Blog posts, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Pandora, Podcasts…
“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” Shannon L. Alder
It’s just nice to be home is my customary response to numerous What now? enquiries about our plans since we’re back from our Big Trip around Australia and settled into life at Taylors Arm.
During our staycation over the busy festive summer school holiday coastal season we alternated progressing projects with R&R. Somewhat rested & refreshed I started my Horticulture Certificate III course at Tafe yesterday. It involves a twice weekly drive to & from nearby Coffs Harbour, 80 kilometres-one hour each way, 9 am to 3.30 pm classes + home study + assignments + projects for assessment, and runs until the end of November 2017 with half term and mid-year breaks.
The G.O. continues to potter in injured knee accommodating manner. His specialist diagnosed torn cartilage and likely treatment with keyhole surgery but will confirm next week after viewing the MRI taken last week. Once that’s fixed, the G.O. has plans for lawn mowing & garden services self-employment to which I hope to value-add my newly acquired horticultural knowledge.
Diesel-Dog has further entrenched himself… eyeballing the kookaburras, defending his yard against cats, greeting his daytime visitors enthusiastically, guarding his nighttime territory vigilantly, sleeping on
my his verandah futon, chasing tennis balls, swimming in the river, sleeping in front of the air-conditioner.
In lieu of January blogging-mojo Instagram was yet again my go-to social media… Following this first, catch-up post for 2017 there will be more Insta-blog posts where I upload daleleelife101 pics and short commentary rather than fewer EllaDee wordy observations. I’ll also continue flitting around the interwebs of the blogworld, Instagram and Facebook, visiting & commenting.
Instead of making new year resolutions I commenced 2017 on the premise start as you mean to go on… reflected via the daleleelife101 Instagram January theme #wordsfor2017.
“Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began…” Charles H. Spurgeon
For glimpses of our everyday life you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right (hover cursor over the pics for the captions) or if you’re an Instagrammer you can follow me at daleleelife101 and the G.O. at welshy055.
daleleelife101.blog the new identity of my EllaDee blog heralds a fresh start, my answer to the oft asked question Where to From Here? Before I go ahead with that, it’s important to know how I got here.
2016 feels like it turned in a series of circles, bringing us back to the chapter we commenced a year ago, when we relocated from our city existence to life in the country.
We are living the life we dreamed… in our rural village in the Nambucca Valley hinterland, in our home with its wide verandah and backyard overlooking green hills.
Already we’re supplementing the dream; adding a dog -Diesel, a Koolie adopted from the RSPCA days after we returned from our around Australia roadtrip, and a sizeable vegetable plot enclosed within a wire cage to grow, firstly our own soil, and then enough veges to go a long way towards feeding ourselves.
To be able to do this at a relatively early stage in our lives – the G.O. is 61 and me 51- we spent ten years living & working in the city with the purpose of being debt free with sufficient immediate-use financial savings, and moderate reserves locked away for longer term. We then swapped our city cash flow time poor existence for a modest lifestyle where time is our currency rather than money.
The process of setting ourselves up began from rudimentary beginnings a decade before the pay-off. But any starting point is better than none. Recognising the watershed moment, when enough is enough, is the real art.
We could have remained longer in the city: working, saving, spending, working, saving, spending… And our dreams would have patiently waited for us to let go of the ring and grab them. Or would they? What happens to dreams that aren’t pursued, are parked while the dreamer quests for more and better? Too many times we hear anecdotes of dreams faded to What Ifs and shrivelled to Might Have Beens.
Where to From Here…
We’ve enjoyed a self-funded holiday during 2016, fulfilling that plan. For 2017 I’ve enrolled at Tafe to study Horticulture, a basic Certificate III course two days each week at nearby Coffs Harbour: a new beginning realising a long-time aspiration. However, not everything has gone to plan. The G.O. is currently -literally- hobbled with an injured knee which will likely need keyhole surgery some time in 2017. But that prognosis rather than a knee replacement is good news. The intention he had of finding work and/or self employment are in hiatus. For the time being there’s plenty he can gently apply himself to catching up on small projects around our 1930’s house that have waited more than a decade for attention. He really did need to slow down -one of the reasons we left Sydney- so it’s not all bad.
Our daily life 101 maxim is Live Simple Home Made Grown Local Creative Better. Our lifestyle is authentic, modest, about trying new things, doing it ourselves, and in turn inspire & assist others.
Then, after 2017? That comes under the wonderful realm of Possibilities.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ~ Shel Silverstein
In the immediate pipeline is a few days spending Christmas with my Dad, followed by festive season houseguests and a Taylors Arm January staycation which if all goes to plan I will spend lounging around reading blog posts & books, and maybe writing a blog post or two.
Below is a selection of photos from the two
four six eight ten busy weeks since we arrived home from our roadtrip around Australia.
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” ~ Mother Teresa
For glimpses of our everyday life you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right (hover cursor over the pics for the captions) or if you’re an Instagrammer you can follow me at daleleelife101 and the G.O. at welshy055.
Hindsight… Throughout the past dozen years of my city living – highrise dwelling – office life I dreamed of a gypsy-like roadtrip around Australia and simple country life. A year later, living my dream life in reality I can report it’s nothing like I thought. Some aspects have been far more difficult, others far more wonderful.
For instance, my blog blurb states “Part of that dream is also to hook up a caravan to our ute and explore Australia.” It once also had the words “and blog about it as we go” tagged on the end. When it came to life on the road I couldn’t manage productive online time, only a single life as art blog post from Broome, NT on 12 August; 59 days into our trip, coincidentally the half way point.
I did manage 118 days -the duration of our travels around Australia- of Instagram posts. My fellow Instagrammers were marvellous company throughout the trip and provided welcome constancy and connection to balance my ever-changing days.
In planning and setting off on our trip we never had a fixed route-timetable. As a mud-map we were following a motorcycle ride the G.O. had done from Darwin to Perth via Broome over 40 years earlier and revisiting a short holiday we’d taken together in 2007 to Broome & Darwin.
We estimated we’d be away for three-four-maybe five months dependent on ennui, funds, weather. As it turned out all those factors became connected and under consideration as we left the north of the west coast and the dry season to encounter an unusually long, cold Australian winter season firmly entrenched down south.
From Broome, we journeyed in a southerly direction -along the far side of Australia- following the West Coast to Perth, across South Australia to Victoria where a stopover in Portland connected our travels to the trip we did in March.
An additional -unconsidered- factor turned out to be the G.O.’s bad knee which has worsened over the years and ultimately hit its tipping point via a long sunset walk along Cable Beach at Broome completed a little too quickly as daylight rapidly diminished. It was going to happen eventually but the timing was unfortunate. Despite him stoically nursing the injury it became apparent in combination with the other factors it was nigh time to head home, and save leisurely exploration of the south for a future trip.
Below is a selection of photos from the second leg of our trip.
Departed Taylors Arm: 15 June 2016
Arrived Taylors Arm: 10 October 2016
Distance Travelled: 24000+ kilometres
At our first fuel-up at Dalby, Queensland the speedo read 160112 kilometres.
In between we travelled through the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.
Our last fuel-up was at Pheasants Nest, NSW where the speedo read 180390 kilometres.
“Hindsight, I think, is a useless tool. We, each of us, are at a place in our lives because of innumerable circumstances, and we, each of us, have a responsibility (if we do not like where we are) to move along life’s road, to find a better path if this one does not suit, or to walk happily along this one if it is indeed our life’s way. Changing even the bad things that have gone before would fundamentally change who we are, and whether or not that would be a good thing, I believe, it is impossible to predict. So I take my past experiences… and try to regret nothing. -Drizzt Do’urden”
― R.A. Salvatore, Sea of Swords
We’ve been home for
two four six eight busy weeks, and pencilled in a staycation to recover from our holiday and its aftermath. Future blog posts [under my new daleleelife101.blog banner] and visits are in the pipeline but in the meantime for glimpses of our everyday life you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right (hover cursor over the pics for the captions) or if you’re an Instagrammer you can follow me at daleleelife101 and the G.O. at welshy055.
*The Far Side was a single-panel cartoon series, often surreal and anthropomorphic, created by Gary Larsen that was syndicated internationally to over 1,900 newspapers from 1980 for fifteen years.
P.S. If you think of it, would you please advise via Comments if this blog post appeared via email notification or in your Reader, as since changing to .blog it didn’t appear in my Reader until I unfollowed then followed. Thank you.
Greetings from one of my favourites places… Broome, Western Australia, where we’ve made ourselves at home for a week enjoying an ensuite caravan park site with bonus shady mango tree, lawn and sprinkler!
Of our 59 days on the road to date most have had merit enough to render them a highlight… the G.O. and I have been, seen, experienced a variety of wonderful. Things people often comment are “once in a lifetime”. As one of the motivations for this trip is revisiting our brief Broome-Darwin highlights 2007 holiday, I don’t buy it for a minute, if somewhere-something is that good -all going to plan- we just might be back.
That is also by way of explanation why you haven’t until now seen a blog post from me and only adhoc visits to your blogs during our trip. It’s an art in itself, living this life on the road. What, if any, later art it manifests, who knows? It’s certainly transforming in subtle ways, and I can literally feel & see myself reshaping.
Last Sunday was one of several quiet days we planned to spend at Derby, Western Australia, after making our way across W.A. and a long, lovely day exploring the wonderful Bungle Bungles. But in a quirky way our Sunday turned out to be not quiet & quite memorable.
On Saturday we arrived, set up, ate lunch, washed clothes and ducked off to the mud crab races for a beer… as you do… before taking in the sunset at Derby Jetty. In passing we noticed the camper we’d parked alongside was the same one as we were next to a few days earlier at Wyndham. Easy to recognise the giant purple snail and name Max scribed boldly across it.
Also as you do, on Sunday morning we got chatting to these neighbours, who proposed an afternoon of fishing on the jetty. Why not, so we cobbled together our gear and joined the congregation enjoying the balmy north W.A. dry season weather doing the same thing. No-one caught much but the ambiance and sunset created a kind of magic.
So, should I have been surprised when chatting to our neighbours to find we have much in common including for B and I our day of birth? Calculating time-place difference, I’m the elder by about 16 hours. Or that B & Aquaman and Tanya & Al we encountered photographing the sunset are bloggers also? Their blogs are maxthesnailcom and Four Corners Australia. Or during the impromptu acoustic jam session of the same evening in the camp kitchen we’d meet travellers from Macksville, the small town nearest our village of Taylors Arm?
Yes, but with the kind of delight that comes from receiving marvellous unexpected gifts.
For glimpses of our travels you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right (hover cursor over the pics for the captions) or if you’re an Instagrammer you can follow me at daleleelife101 and the G.O. at welshy055.
Not lacking for blog inspiration & ideas, I began compiling a blog post for the first -Queensland- leg of our trip several weeks ago during our Darwin, Northern Territory stopover, which I’ll complete in due course. Since, we’ve moved further across another state. But I find the practical application of it somewhat distracting from the actual travel. However, below is a selection of photos from the last 58 days. Which in the meantime will suffice, I hope.
Mackay, North Queensland where we visited talltalesfromchiconia‘s Kate & Mr C.
Townsville, North Queensland looking towards the very attractive Magnetic Island
Kronosaurus Korner at Richmond, Outback Queensland where dinosaurs once swam
Our neigh-bours at Mt Isa, Outback Queensland
Retail therapy outback style at Daly Waters, Northern Territory
Up close and incredibly loud at Nitro Up North, Darwin, NT
Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin NT, the place to be on a Sunday evening
Everyone loves a sunset at Mindil Beach, Darwin, NT
We’re fans of markets big and small… Dundee Beach, NT
During our 2007 trip we saw Arnhem Land, NT from the air, this time on the ground
A view from a bridge… Victoria River, Gregory/Judburra National Park, NT…the G.O. rode a motorcycle across over 40 years ago
Dusty… Kununurra Rodeo, WA
Heading west, WA… we see a lot of this
A big, blue jewel in the Kimberley… Lake Argyle, WA
Five Rivers Lookout, Wyndham, WA on the Cambridge Gulf where the Ord, Pentecost, Durack, King and Forrest rivers come together
The Domes, 360 million years old, part of the Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park,WA… worth an 180 kilometre rough dirt road side trip
Another day another magic sunset… Derby Jetty, WA
Broome’s Gantheume Point where dinosaurs once roamed, looking towards Cable Beach, WA
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Anita Desai
From Broome, we’ll resume our journey in a southerly direction following the coast towards Perth, slowly towards Taylors Arm, NSW marked with the yellow star.
Seven months have swiftly passed since the G.O. and I moved to Taylors Arm at the beginning of summer. Now it’s winter and the dry season in northern Australia, the optimum time for setting off on our “big trip”, the one we’ve been planning for about ten years, so we’re packing away the house and packing up our caravan & ute with necessities for three, four or maybe five months on the road, and all weathers & environments.
In 2007 we managed a taster trip: a fortnight holiday flying from Sydney to Broome to Darwin to Sydney, exploring driving a hire car -as much as you can in two weeks- The Kimberley and Top End. For this upcoming trip we have given ourselves the time we envied those travellers in vans and campers we saw in caravan parks and campgrounds as we whizzed by or made overnight stops.
Our aim is to travel -as much as possible along the coast- from Taylors Arm, north up into tropical Queensland across to the Northern Territory, over to northern Western Australia, south to the bottom of Western Australia, across South Australia via the Nullabor to Portland – the most south-westerly location we got to during our Victoria roadtrip in March this year.
After which we’ll figure out how to get home… route TBA dependent on time, money and travel ennui-enthusiasm.
I’ll be in touch… posting updates and visiting the blogging community as much as possible. For glimpses of our travels you can see my Instagram snapshots on the right and if you are an Instagrammer, you can find me at daleleelife101, and the G.O. at welshy055.
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
~ John Steinbeck
Our planet is a mess. Our world is a mess. Our economies are a mess. Our politics are a mess. Our food culture is a mess. Too often I feel just one person -me- can’t do enough about saving the planet, changing the world, fixing the economy or persuading politicians… other than making my vote count at the next election by choosing as best I can from the options available.
Choosing as best I can from the options available is how I decide what to eat. And just maybe it will create positive change for the planet, world, economy and even politics.
What I choose to eat depends on my circumstances, time, budget, location, preferences… and principles. Food matters to me. I need to eat. What do I eat? Where do I spend my money? I was trying to care about good food without much information to guide me, relying on what the supermarkets sold me, and the right choices never seemed to come easily.
I’ve always played music in my kitchen -for me, it goes hand in hand with cooking. One day I was playing The John Butler Trio album Three, and a line from lyrics of the song Money stuck in my head… “So tell me man can you eat your money…” It clarified the confusion I had been feeling. So many places I was paying money to for food didn’t care about the food the way I did. It was just a Thneed they wanted to sell me to get my money.
I prefer to hand over cash in exchange for food to people I’m familiar and can have a conversation with; this from going to farmers markets when we were living in the city and learning about food direct from producers who travelled from the country. Now living in the country I’m exploring our new food neighbourhood and continuing have conversations… some are easier than others.
I asked, and learned from Dangerous Dan’s butcher they don’t stock feedlot meat. Their product labelling and conversational butcher told me their beef is grass-fed, pastured from the Manning Valley (200 kilometres). He said the lamb is from western NSW and the pigs are from local small holdings. But their chickens are Red Lea, have Free Range Accreditation but are not pasture reared. They don’t stock beef cheeks because they have to buy 20 kilogram lots. Macksville Quality Meats stock the local Burrawong Gaian chickens I buy which are pasture reared. Conversations with these guys are more prosaic. Their beef comes from Wingham (200 kilometres), and the story’s the same for lamb, pork and beef cheeks.*
We like to buy meat from our local Pub with No Beer, whose beef & pork is locally pasture reared (by the G.O.’s cousin who I can chat to and order beef cheeks from) and Kinloch Quality Meats at nearby Scotts Head butcher who grow their beef and pigs just up the road from us. We’re fans of Eungai Creek Buffalo who I first met many years ago at Eveleigh-Carriageworks Farmers Market when they had a farm west of Sydney. They moved to the Nambucca Valley, and now have a café on their farm adjacent to buffalo in the paddocks as well as a product range of meat, cheese, yoghurt and icecream.
I simplify my choices and exercise my principles by shopping local, choosing independents over big supermarket chains. The nearby Macksville Foodworks Co-op supermarket meets most of my needs for basic grocery items and importantly stocks a reasonable selection of local products as does the other local independent, Richies IGA at Nambucca Heads.
Supermarket milk wars have recently shone a much-needed spotlight on Australian’s consumer choices for dairy products. Both these independent supermarkets stock my preferred local Norco (i.e. “North Coast” 100% Farmer Owned Co-Op) and Devondale (The Aussie Farmer Co-Op) dairy products as well as other small producers’. Foodworks hadn’t been stocking the G.O.’s favourite Norco spreadable butter, so I asked them if they could. A few weeks later, it appeared on the shelf.
Recently at Woolworths Nambucca Heads searching for Australian company Republica’s organic fair trade coffee -our compromise on price, taste, ethics & availability- I noted local brands on the shelves were slim pickings… no local Norco dairy products. There were Nowra (650 kilometres) cheeses, prominently labelled local. I bought one… Hello, my name is Dale, I’m a cheese addict!
Eggs were the first food choices I made from an ethical standpoint. Oh, the joy and satisfaction when I get my hands on good eggs from friends, neighbours, friends & family of neighbours, the Pub with No Beer, farmers markets and if necessary the supermarket… I advocate consumer free ranging to find good eggs preferably from pasture ranging chickens. Pastured chooks, being natural creatures don’t lay all the time, so the more sources the better. I’ve been a fan for a while of Flavour Crusader which lists directories for local, free range and organic produce – eggs as well as milk, pork, garlic, chicken, fruit and vegetables, and was excited to discover the newly launched CluckAR – The Free Range Egg Detector App with which “you can simply point your smartphone camera at a carton in the supermarket, and get a clear picture of which brands are selling eggs from the most chilled-out, happy hens”.
Some food conversations are really awkward…. Mrs Well-Meaning Neighbour asked me if we liked corned beef (silverside). Sensing more to the question, I replied “yeeeesss” cautiously. She went on… would we like a frozen corned beef courtesy of their prodigious meat raffle wins? Knowing the raffle meat source was the local supermarket, I politely declined explaining we don’t buy or eat supermarket meat as it doesn’t agree with us. Several hours later the G.O. showed up at the back door, his face wearing a hunted expression and clutching a large frozen corned beef with which Mrs Neighbour had presented him at the gate. Upon seeing this I announced “we’re taking it back”. His expression became more woeful, so I agreed to look into its provenance. I Googled the name on the packaging, Thomas Farms… “innovative and value added-meat products” part of Thomas Foods, “Australia’s largest 100% family owned… third largest meat processor” and found several interesting articles which swayed the G.O. who said “we’ll take it back”. And we did, once again politely explaining we don’t buy or eat supermarket meat as it doesn’t agree with us and this product was likely via a feedlot i.e. AFO/CAFO (Concentrated/Animal Farming Operation). To which Mrs Neighbour responded “we don’t know anything about that, but my daughter will be happy to have it”. The experience left the G.O. and I feeling need-a-glass-of-wine-to-recover stressed. But a few days later, Mrs Neighbour triumphantly reported the corned beef had been well-received.
I care about my food and my money. Food shopping involves far more considering of choices and circumstance, time, budget, location, preferences than I believe it should but it’s my money and principles which give me power to influence food culture. When I can’t find what suits me I walk away without buying anything, often remarking
“I want what I want not what you’ve got. It’s my money”.
* Correct at time of publishing.